After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Netherlands declared war on Japan. Together with its allies the US, Great Britain and Australia, the Netherlands formed an army. The name of the army was ABDACOM: American-British-Dutch-Australian Command. ABDACOM was set up to prevent Japan from invading East Asia. They were not successful. Between December 1941 and February 1942, Japan conquered Malaysia, Singapore, and large parts of the Dutch East Indies.
On 27 February 1942, a Japanese fleet was on its way to set troops ashore at Java (Dutch East Indies). The allied ABDACOM fleet tried to stop the invasion. The ships were under the command of Dutch Admiral Karel Doorman aboard HNLMS De Ruyter.
The Japanese fleet was too strong. It had more ships, better weapons, and reconnaissance planes. The ABDACOM fleet’s communication equipment was poor. In a seven-hour naval battle, the Allies lost five ships and more than 1,000 men. In the following days, the Japanese navy destroyed the remaining ships.
On 28 February 1942, the Japanese troops landed on Java. For the remainder of the Second World War, the Netherlands did not play a military role of any significance.